A Review of Another 5 Major Tech Trends In 2020

This time we look at other forms of AI, 5G and Computing

further 5 top tech trends hitting our doors in 2020.

1. Edge Computing

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

At this stage, we all know or have at least heard of the cloud. With the likes of Amazon (AWS), Google and Microsoft competing with each other head to head, it’s a hot industry with huge margins to be made.

I recently spoke to a solution architect from AWS and the most exciting tech trend they’re looking forward to in 2020 is edge computing.

So what is edge computing?

Most of us currently have our own personal computers but still access services like Dropbox and Google Drive which all have content and intelligence that is powered via the cloud.

‘Edge’ means that instead of relying on the cloud (and one of the data centers within it to do the compute), your compute is done near or close to the source of the data instead.

A great example is your IoT devices.

Historically, your Alexa devices would receive inputs and then process the data across Amazon’s data centers. This would, of course, take time (latency issues) and has a heavy reliance on the cloud.

By empowering your Alexa with its own AI chips, more processing can be done on your local device and less on the cloud. This would reduce the compute needed in the data center and also allow for quicker replies from your device.

All of this will help drive costs down and process data more efficiently. By sending only relevant data back through the cloud, it’s reducing the compute needed and also bandwidth needs.

As we see more technology rely on this type of computing, it will be interesting to see how advanced these chips can get.

2. Virtual Reality

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

We covered human augmentation and, indirectly, augmented reality in the last article.

In definition, Virtual Reality is a computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional environments that can be interacted usually through specific electronic equipment and software.

Virtual Reality has always been a gimmicky concept, even though it has been around for years. Although Mr. Zuckerburg (remember he did buy Oculus) may not think 2020 is the year for VR to explore into the mainstream audience, there is another way to look at it.

I don’t think it’s a 2020 thing. But hopefully it’s not a 2030 thing. If you think about how we use screens, phones are the ones we bring with us, but half of our time with screens is TVs. I think VR is TV — Mark Zuckerburg

What is really interesting isn’t the consumer side (which will grow organically over time) but more the enterprise or business side applications of Virtual Reality.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say I expect to see relatively organic growth in VR in 2020 on the consumer side, but a lot of activity in the enterprise sector. — Matthew Wren, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer at BUNDLAR

We’ve already seen many companies utilizing this technology, even as early as 2007. Aerospace giants like Boeing and Airbus used the technology to eliminate the need for expensive, full-scale prototypes of their designs.

Since 2007, Airbus has used VR technology RAMSIS (Realistic Anthropological Mathematical System) to simulate the interior design of cabins.

The other major area where we will see the explosion of growth in 2020 for Virtual Reality technology is education and training.

Applicable to situations such as classroom teaching where students can explore the history or geography whilst providing a realistic visual aid is empowering.

On the other end, training for enterprises and businesses will be game-changing.

Source: Walmart training employees

In 2017, Walmart partnered with Strivr, to help prepare its workers for the rush of the Black Friday sales. The technology helped immerse employees in a similar lifelike environment with long queues and large crowds to help prepare them for the incoming increase in activity.

3. Internet of Things (IoT)

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We’ve seen IoT around us for a while now.

As a reminder, the internet of things is a system of interrelated computing devices, usually embedded in everyday objects, that help transfer and receive data.

The most understood and common application is with devices like Google Homes and Amazon Echos.

Over a quarter of US adults own a smart speaker system within their home. -Via TechCrunch

The first internet appliance was conceptualized and created as early as in the 1980s. A coke machine was placed in Carnegie Mellon University where by using the web, programmers could check on the status on the machine and identify if any of the drinks were chilled for purchase (kind of silly but also must have been ingenious at the time).

Fast forward today, IoT has become all around us.

For 2020, the growth in smart home devices as well as within industries like healthcare will be tremendous.

We’ve already seen the explosion of growth with Amazon Echo but also in other devices such as smart glasses, earbuds, alarm clocks, and even smart rings. All of these will have the ability to connect and relay information with each other to truly create a smart technology environment.

Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

Healthcare is a major industry where it can be highly regulated but also tech-dependent. There are many ‘smart’ hospitals popping up that are using IoT devices to help monitor patients remotely through wearables and health sensors.

Similar to an “indoor GPS”, these can help save money by reducing the utilization of resources as well as the staff needed to monitor patients. Even more amazing are small ingestible devices that when swallowed, can help transmit data back about medication effectiveness.

Healthcare is just one area where IoT devices are enabling humans to relay information quicker through devices.

It will be amazing to see what other industries can do once they adopt this technology.

4. AI as a Service

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

The topic of Artificial Intelligence has been going on for a while since the 1960s.

The promise of AI and what it can deliver has always been up in the air. In recent years, however, it has improved significantly, especially with the investment into the industry from many companies.

Artificial Intelligence as a Service (or AIaaS in short), sounds exactly like what it is, a third party offering of artificial intelligence as a service to businesses. This means you don’t have to spend millions working on your own AI engine and instead utilize what companies like Google, AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Dataiku have already done.

What are some examples?

Some common examples are shown within the natural language processing (NLP) space. Many businesses utilize bots to help answer common questions and then reroute the more complicated queries to customer service employees. This reduces the need to hire more staff and can cut down costs tremendously.

Other examples go into other areas of machine learning like computer vision within spaces like image processing.

In 2020 and beyond, there will be more developments within AI which will allow more of these services to open up.

5. 5G

Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash

We’ve seen it around and heard about it but 5G has not taken off as marketed.

With a limited range of phones and networks, 2019 was an underwhelming year for 5G across the world, especially with the hype and excitement around lightning speeds and coverage.

Additionally, there was some mess caused by some providers like AT&T’s 5GE, which was misadvertised and not actually 5G.

At the third annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm revealed to every major US carrier that 2020 would be different.

“2020 is the year 5G goes mainstream” — Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm President

With more than 200 million 5G smartphones being expected to be shipped out in 2020, it does truly seem to be the right timing.

How fast exactly is 5G meant to be?

5G speeds can range from ~50 Mbit/s to over a gigabit but most commonly, the mid-band speeds can range usually between 100 to 400 Mbits. This means it can run 10 to 100 times faster than a typical cellular connection that you may have today.

To see if your smartphone is 5G enabled, check out the list below (there will definitely be more but here is an initial guideline):

  • Huawei Mate X
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • LG V50 THINQ
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
  • OnePlus7 Or OnePlus 7T
  • ZTE Axon 10 Pro
  • Sony 5G Prototype
  • Motorola Z3

5G connections are forecasted to reach 1.2 billion by 2025, according to a report by GSMA.

What is amazing about 5G isn’t the fact it is the next generation of wireless connectivity.

It’s the fact it can help connect billions of devices together across the world at lightning speeds. It will help enable innovations discussed in this article such as IoT and VR but also help lay the foundation of other ventures like autonomous vehicles and smart cities.

This is the most exciting part of 5G, it is truly helping make a better-connected world.


2020 and beyond is an exciting time for tech.

As technology innovates, it will change the way we as humans interact with each other and our surroundings.

From 5G, AI and all the way to edge computing, these technologies will gradually become more mainstream. This opens up the door to even more advancements and innovations including the development of new forms of technology.

All Rights Reserved for Richard Liu

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